Thursday, 25 November 2010

Father of modern Penang, Dr. Lim Chong Eu, a truly towering leader dies


Chong Eu, the father of modern Penang, passes away peacefully at home

Reports by CHRISTINA CHIN, TAN SIN CHOW, WINNIE YEOH, FONG KEE SOON and JOSEPHINE JALLEH

PETALING JAYA: Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu, a giant in Malaysian politics, died last night.

Dr Lim, who will always be remembered as the father of modern Penang, died at his Tanjung Bungah home at 9.07pm surrounded by his family.

The former Penang chief minister was brought home at about 7pm from Penang Hospital, where he had been warded following a stroke about a month ago.

Dr Lim: Credited with implementing the Free Trade Zone and building the Komtar building and Penang Bridge.

 
Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said Dr Lim would be accorded a state funeral.

Dr Lim, 91, had led an intensely private life since retiring from politics after losing in Padang Kota to DAP’s Lim Kit Siang in the 1990 general election.

He made a clean and complete break from politics, declining to comment on issues, and turned to his passion, horse breeding.

Dr Lim, whose name was synonymous with Penang politics and its development from 1969 through the seventies and eighties, had not given a single interview since retiring.

A bold and high-thinking pioneer of his generation, he earned his place in history when the Gerakan party he co-founded snatched Penang from the Alliance in the 1969 general election.

But the pragmatist in him saw it fit to join the newly-constituted Barisan Nasional in 1973. The shrewd and strategic decision enabled him to power Penang from a struggling free port into a modern and developed state.

Besides implementing the Free Trade Zone, he built the Komtar building and Penang Bridge in the face of widespread opposition.

He can also claim the distinction of a political life quite untouched by scandal or corruption and resolutely refused a title until his retirement when he finally accepted a Tunship.

Dr Lim, who studied medicine in Scotland, leaves behind wife Toh Puan Goh Sing Yeng, sons Chien Aun and Chien Cheng, daughters Pao Yen and Pao Lin, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
  
The man behind Penang’s economic transformation

GEORGE TOWN: Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu, 91, who served as Penang Chief Minister for 21 years, was a towering leader who presided over the remarkable economic transformation of the state.

He led a simple life despite a political career spanning 39 years, shunning awards and titles, and only accepting a Tunship after retirement from politics.

When he took over as Penang’s second chief minister in May 1969, the state was going through a difficult period after the withdrawal of its free port status, with unemployment rising to 16.4%.

He implemented the Free Trade Zone concept in Penang – the first state to do so – wooed foreign investments and built one of the largest electronics manufacturing bases in Asia, earning Penang the tag as Silicon Valley of the East.

A simple man: The late Tun Dr Lim with his wife Toh Puan Goh Sing Yeng attending a high tea reception in a recent photo.
 
Dr Lim also presided over Batu Ferringhi’s transformation into a tourism belt, cleared pre-war houses to build the iconic 65-storey Komtar and built the Penang Bridge.

Born in Penang, Dr Lim attended Penang Free School. In 1937, he was a King’s scholar at Edinburgh University in Scotland and graduated in 1944 with a medical degree.

Formerly a medical officer with the Chinese Armed Forces, he founded the Radical Party in 1951 which won the first municipal council elections in George Town.

In 1954, he joined MCA and was a member of the Razak Commission for Education.

Despite defeating the late Tun Tan Cheng Lock for party presidency in 1958, he quit MCA a year later following differences with Umno over the allocation of parliamentary seats in the 1959 general election.

He formed the United Democratic Party in 1962 and co-founded Gerakan in 1968, which swept the Alliance ruling coalition out of office in the 1969 general election, leading to his appointment as Chief Minister.

However, in 1973, Gerakan, together with the Alliance Party, formed a coalition called Barisan Nasional.

In 1980, Dr Lim stepped down as party president, saying there were “many young and promising leaders in the party just as capable to hold the post”, and was succeeded by (Tun) Dr Lim Keng Yaik in 1980.

He continued as Chief Minister but retired after losing the Padang Kota state seat in the 1990 general election. He was succeeded by his former political secretary, Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon, as chief minister.
His message to the party then was to “always remember its roots and humble beginnings”.

After retiring from politics, he became a passionate horse breeder and turned his attention to business as chairman and adviser to several large corporations.

In 2007, he was named founding chancellor of Wawasan Open University in Penang.
Lim’s legacy will not be forgotten, especially by Penangites.


My greatest rememberance and honour to our heroes. A true hero of Penang.


He is Penangite's Bapa Pemodenan dan Kemajuan.


We owe him the respect and bereavements, as he is the true leaders that brought forth The Penang Bridge, FTZ, FIZ, Tanjung Bunga tourist belt, Komtar and modernity to Penang.


Truly a man of his class, he never bothered to bodek the UMNO president during his tenureship as CM of Penang.

It much regretted our dear fathers/mothers and elders voted him out during 1990. Yet, we will never forget your effort, your contribution and you Tun Lim, the son of Penang and also very the Father of Penang.

We wish your last journey into the next life be blessed and peaceful.

Goodbye sir.

Nation has lost a great statesman, say politicians

PETALING JAYA: The nation has lost a great leader with the demise of former Penang Chief Minister Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu, said many politicians.

MCA party president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek described Dr Lim as one of the greatest Chinese leaders of the nation.

“His demise is a loss to the nation. Because of his visionary leadership, Penang became one of the earliest states to see rapid transformation.

“By setting up the Free Trade Zone, he successfully attracted a significant inflow of foreign direct investments,” he said.

In his tweet, DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang wrote:
“Penang and Malaysia have lost a great son. Though opponents in political electoral arena, I always have highest respect for Lim Chong Eu’s political struggles and integrity.”

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Gerakan president and former Penang Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon said: “Malaysia, Penang and Gerakan have lost a great statesman and visionary. Tun Dr Lim was rightly the father of Industrialisation for Malaysia.”

Koh credited Dr Lim as one of the founding fathers of the nation, having participated actively in the drafting of the Federal Constitution.

“Gerakan members and I are very saddened to have lost our most respected founder,’’ he added.
Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, who is away on a business trip to Hong Kong, extended the state government’s deepest condolences to Dr Lim’s family.

DAP chairman Karpal Singh said Dr Lim was a man who commanded respect and one who would be missed by the people of Penang.

“Although he was a serious-looking man, Dr Lim had a humorous side as well. He was able to counter an opponent in both the state legislative assembly and Parliament effectively.

“I will miss him personally and his demise is a great loss not only to Penang but to the country,” said the Bukit Gelugor MP. Women, Family and Community Development Minister Senator Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil fondly remembered Dr Lim for attending her wedding.

“God bless his soul. As a Penangite, I grew up under Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu. His legacy is enviable,” she tweeted yesterday.

Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir tweeted that the former Gerakan president built Penang into what it is today.

Former Penang Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ibrahim Saad tweeted that Dr Lim was his first boss after being elected into the Government, adding his former boss was a fantastic and visionary leader.

Related Stories:
The man behind Penang’s economic transformation
Chong Eu, the father of modern Penang, passes away peacefully at home

A saviour whose foresight led Penang out of the doldrums

INDUSTRIAL organisations in Penang have paid tribute to Tun Dr Lim Chong for spearheading the state’s industrialisation.

Malaysian American electronics Industry (MAEI) chairman Datuk Wong Siew Hai described Dr Lim as Penang’s saviour when the state was going through hard times after losing its free port status.

“As the Chinese saying goes, in every crisis there is an opportunity.

“Dr Lim saw the opportunity and seized it and started the transformation of the state.

“He led his team overseas to attract investment and was successful with the first eight companies namely AMD, Hewlett Packard (now Agilent Technology), Clarion, National Semiconductor (now Fairchild Semiconductor), Hitachi Semiconductor (now Renesas Semiconductor), Intel Malaysia, Osram Opto Semiconductor and Robert Bosch.

“His transformation programme also led to the creation of new townships like Bayan Baru and Seberang Jaya,” he said.

The committee members of the Free Industrial Zone Penang Companies Association (Frepenca) praised Lim for developing the electronics industry to resolve the unemployment rate in Penang in the early 1970s.

It credited Lim for working closely with the Federal Government to create two zones in Penang under the Free Trade Zone Act, 1971.

In a statement, a Frepenca spokesman said Dr Lim worked tirelessly to invite foreign companies to set up plants in Penang.

Meanwhile, the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers Penang (FMM) credited Lim with the success of Penang’s various industries, especially manufacturing.

Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers northern branch region chairman Datuk O K Lee said Dr Lim courageously pioneered the transformation of Penang from an entreport and agro-based island state into a globally renowned manufacturing hub in the Far East, particularly in the field of electrical and electronics.


Penangites sing praises of Dr Lim

THE ordinary Penangite may not have known Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu but his passing still managed to evoke in them a sense of sadness and loss.

Pharmacist Cheryl Lim, 23, who had just returned to Penang after studying in Melbourne, said Dr Lim’s death was a great loss to Penang as he had done a lot for Penangites.

Supply chain director G.S. Khoo, 48, said Dr Lim was a man of great vision and Penang has become what it is today because of him.

He said Dr Lim had contributed greatly to the state’s economy, including setting up the Bayan Lepas Free Trade Zone.

“Although I was not born a Penangite, I have been living here for the past 20 years and now have a job with a multi-national corporation,” he said of the impact Dr Lim had on his life.

“I have seen him before at functions after his retirement from politics but we have never spoken. It would have been wonderful to have talked to him and to know his thoughts,” he added.

Factory administrators Anisha Banu, 33, and Munira Halili, 30, thanked Dr Lim for his contributions to Penang.

“If not for him, we may not even be employed today. His death is a great loss to all Penangites,” said Munira.

“We appreciate great leaders like Tun who helped to develop our nation. We have lost a great thinker. Our condolences to his family and we hope he will rest in peace,” said Anisha.

Housewife Rosa Wong, 45, said Dr Lim had set a good moral example for the younger generation.

Her son, student Louis Phuah, 19, said current and future generations of politicians have much to learn from Dr Lim.

Sales consultant Leow Guan Hai, 55, who had helped out during the election campaigns of Dr Lim and his son Chien Aun in the past, described Dr Lim as a great leader and a nice man.

“Tun was respected by people of all races. He contributed greatly to Penang, and we have him to thank for the existence of Komtar, Penang Bridge and the Free Trade Zone, which created a lot of jobs for the people of Penang and helped Penang to develop fast,” he said.

Lawyers See Liang Teik, 42, and Ramsun Ho, 43, said they were fortunate to have known Dr Lim as committee members of both the Old Frees Association (OFA) and the Penang Swimming Club (PSC) where Dr Lim was a trustee of both and also patron of OFA.

Ho described Dr Lim’s demise as the passing of an era and noted that he should be admired for his steadfastness in not getting involved in politics after his retirement.

See said Dr Lim was a wise man, a true statesman and a gentleman.

“He was a visionary and always had new ideas even at 90. Even though we did not really know him that well, we have fond memories of Tun from the short time we knew him over the past few years,” he said.

Chong Eu had courage to make changes

AS a Penang-born Malaysian, I feel very sad over the departure of Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu, a former chief minister of Penang. Dr Lim was one of our most outstanding leaders who did not talk very much but worked very hard for the industrialisation of our country.

He showed his unparalleled far-sightedness as a political leader.

After the Gerakan wrested power in Penang in 1969, he travelled overseas to invite foreign investors to set up electronic factories in Penang.

The electronic factories gave Penang a new lease on life when it lost its free port status. The free trade zone provided ample job opportunities for the people. The setting up of these factories also contributed much to the growth of downstream industries in the country. Apart from that, we also benefited in terms of transfer of technology.

I was one of those who benefited from the industrialisation programme initiated by Dr Lim. In the 1980s, chances for young people to further their tertiary education were scarce. However, those who worked in the multinational electronic factories in Penang were given ample opportunities to upgrade their skills and education.

While working in National Semiconductor, I took a City and Guild diploma course in electronic engineering conducted by the company and after graduation, was given the opportunity to go to Japan for special technical skill training under an AOTS (Association for Technical Overseas Scholarship) scholarship.

I will always remember Dr Lim, not only as the Father of Industrialisation of Penang, but also as the person who played an important role in fostering the early “open university” programme in Malaysia.

I only met him once but I was very impressed by his words.

He believed that industrialisation was very important to our country because of its multiplying effects. For instance, a factory of 1,000 workers would create another 6,000 additional job opportunities because the new factory would create demand for food, housing, clothing, education and entertainment.

One important thing that we can learn from him is that courage is a dominating factor in initiating changes. Dr Lim also displayed his wisdom as a political leader by joining the Barisan National because he knew the importance of unity and stability in fostering economic development.

GOH HOE HOE,Kuala Lumpur.

Salute to a Malaysian legend

AS A medical doctor Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu was a wholesome fatherly figure who always managed to win the hearts of his younger patients.

I was a young patient of Tun until his entry into full-time politics. During that time I had never heard any child scream on being injected or vaccinated. Dr Lim was always able to do it with almost no pain being felt.

His elderly patients had nothing but praise for him. Dr Lim was true to the Hippocratic Oath, never turning away his patients even when they appeared at his house on weekends.

A highly respected political figure, he was a professional the whole nine yards. His weekly interviews and press statements were all related to current topics.

As a freelance journalist, I had never heard Dr Lim speak out of turn in spite of his stature in society, and he always respected others.

He had the ability to make his audience listen to him.

One can imagine the challenges that he had to face as a Penang leader, particularly with regards to funding. Being a small state meant that there was never enough revenue to fund the running of the state.

The Free Trade Zone, his brainchild, brought in the industrialists and saw the state’s revenue growing.

Despite various constraints, he was firm and decisive in what he wanted in the interest of Penang and managed to get Federal funds for the Penang Bridge – the third longest in the world when it was completed – and the 60-storey Komtar complex-cum-state government operations centre.

Dr Lim was also responsible for much of the state’s infrastructure, especially the road network; for turning the airport into an international passenger and cargo hub and upgrading the port to service the logistics needs of the high-tech industries operating out of Penang.

True to the professional that he was, Dr Lim took to his retirement without making regular or even periodical press statements and refrained from political comments on his successors or peers.

He delivered his best during his tenure and he allowed his successors and peers the same space he received from his constituents and coalition partners.

Anyone who had had the opportunity to meet and speak with Dr Lim was always awed by his ability to remember faces and names.

I had occasionally bumped into him and he always addressed me by name and asked about my father.

Dr Lim was never too elevated in status that he forgot the layman. He blended in always, spoke to all and sundry and was always approachable.

He did not accept any title offered to him throughout his tenure as the Chief Minister of Penang and only accepted the Tunship after his retirement.

We salute you Dr Lim for your clear vision for Penang and I am sure all Penangites and Malaysians join me in saluting you. We know much sacrifice had to be made in your quest to make Penang a great place for Penangites and for Malaysians and the millions of tourists and industrialists that have criss-crossed our prized island state.

CHEAH CHEONG TIAN, George Town.